Stephen King: his childhood, his family, what scares him(Read article summary)
Stephen King's new book, 'Joyland,' hits bookstores June 4.
Stephen Kingâs new novel, âJoyland,â began 20 years ago with a single image the writer couldnât shake from his head: a boy, in a wheelchair, flying a kite on a beach.
From that image, a story slowly took shape, King told NPR, until it culminated in his latest book, a retro thriller about a haunted small-town carnival.
Set in North Carolina in 1973, âJoylandâ follows a heartbroken college student who takes a job at the kooky beachfront amusement park where he learns the secret history behind a gory murder and gets pulled into the eerie world of carnies. The book, which is published by hard-boiled crime publisher Hard Case Crime, is set to hit bookstores June 4.
How âJoylandâ harkens back to Kingâs childhood:Â
King told NPR he chose Hard Case Crime because the publisher reminded him of his favorite childhood reads.Â
âHard Case Crime is a throwback to the books that I loved as a kid,â King said. âWe lived way out in the country, and my mother would go once a week shopping, and she would go to the Red & White or the A&P to pick up her groceries. And I would immediately beat feet to Robert's Drugstore, where they had a couple of those turn-around wire racks with the hard-boiled paperbacks that usually featured a girl with scanty clothing on the front.â
âJoylandâ is a tribute to those old-time favorites, scantily-clad cover girl and all.
On what scares him now:
From his mother, King developed a fondness for horror. âMy childhood was pretty ordinary, except from a very early age I wanted to be scared,â he told NPR. As a child, he secretly listened to a horror radio show called âDimension X,â and dreamed of boogymen.
The horror writer isnât afraid of much these days, except one thing: acquiring a condition like Alzheimerâs disease and losing his faculties. âThatâs the boogeyman in the closet now,â he says. âIâm afraid of losing my mind.âÂ
On his literary family
It turns out writing is the King family business. Kingâs wife is the novelist Tabitha King, and both his sons are writers, too.
Not surprisingly, all of Kingâs children, including daughter Naomi, started reading at a young age, thanks in part to Dadâs desperation.
â[S]ometimes in the afternoon [Kingâs wife] Tabby would say, âI canât deal with it anymore, Steve. Iâm going to lie down.â These kids would be tearing all over the house, and Iâd be trying to think of something I could do with them,â King told Parade. âOne day, out of desperation, I got a couple of Spider-Man comic books. I didnât expect much, but they went nuts for that stuff. All of them read early. Owen and Naomi read at 2 or something. They were amazing that way.â
Son Owen Kingâs recent novel is âDouble Feature,â and son Joe (who writes under the name Joe Hill) recently released a vampire book, âNOS4A2.âÂ
Both sons dedicated their books to their mother, who critiques the writing of all three men, Stephen King included.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.